New York Jets: Playoffs or Bust?
Are the New York Jets a playoffs or bust kind of team this year? The team finds itself in contender conversation following key acquisitions of proven playmakers in cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie plus wide receiver Brandon Marshall all signed this off season. In the 2015 NFL Draft, the Jets selected Leonard Williams who looks to be a promising rookie on the defensive line.
Front office and coaching personnel are also revamped with the hiring of general manager Mike Maccagnan, head coach Todd Bowles and offensive coordinator Chan Gailey. Expectations are high for improvement over a dismal 4-12 campaign in 2014. Many are questioning, however, if the final 53-man roster and the new regime are built only for immediate success or if New York is set to compete in the future.
New York Jets
The Jets’ defense is poised to be among the best, if not the top defense in the league this upcoming season. Although there are concerns at strong safety, the overall outlook is positive, especially with defensive minded Bowles at the helm. Many feel this defense is enough to carry the team through a run for the NFL Playoffs despite a few other concerns surrounding the team.
Geno Smith is definitely the No. 1 on that concern list. His play has been wildly inconsistent at best, exhibiting flashes of brilliance while also displaying a knack for bone-headed decisions. Smith did cut his interception total from 21 in 2013 to 13 in 2014, which is a promising signal in the right direction. It’s his ability to remain steadfast in the pocket and improvise when a play breaks down that worries the team.
Nick Mangold remains the Pro Bowl anchor of the Jets’ offensive line, but outside center there remains questions on how effective this unit can be in protecting Smith and the running game. If the line can hold throughout the season just enough to allow Smith to make better decisions and create space for the running game, we may see a fairly productive offense where new additions Devin Smith and Marshall along with veteran Eric Decker and slot specialist Jeremy Kerley contribute significantly.
Age is another concern for the Jets. On the defense, Cromartie and David Harris are all over 30 years old. Revis turns 30 next season. For the offense, center Mangold, D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Marshall are also over 30. The Jets are tied for second most players aged 30+ on their roster in the NFL. Football is extremely taxing on a player’s body and we can only hope these players can stay healthy long enough through this season and the next, but one can’t help but wonder how much longer these players can contribute at a high level.
They may be considered contenders this season, but it’s difficult to predict if the Jets can take the division from the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. It’s likely the best hope for playoff contention is through the wild card, and we know how much of crap shoot that can be.
Let us also not forget the Jets don’t necessarily have a cake-walk schedule with the NFC East matchups, an away game against the Indianapolis Colts and a trip to London against the Miami Dolphins coming in 2015.
With a new head coach and supporting personnel, promising newcomers at the veteran and rookie levels and an entirely new front office regime, the Jets also have to prove this can all gel well together in the first year under this new era. Missing the playoffs with so many promising new pieces would raise some eyebrows, but there are also enough concerns to temper expectations for the Jets in 2015.
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